Seaweed carbon uptake

Seaweed for the Planet

There is a lot of talk about seaweed saving the world - but how does that work?

I theory, seaweed can capture carbon dioxide faster than land plants. In a 2011 paper by Chung et al. (adaptation in graph below), you can see that there are large differences in the growth rates and carbon uptake across different types of seaweeds. Green seaweeds tend to include the fastest growing seaweeds. Some proponents suggest that we should grow massive  fields of seaweed at sea and sink it to the bottom of the ocean as one of the fastest ways to catch carbon. This is technically feasible, but I believe difficult for any philanthropist to invest in.

At PhycoHealth, our core green seaweed can grow 50 x faster than traditional crops, and grow more protein than a cattle farm. Our PhycoGreen seaweed ingredient, Ulva 84, is one of the fastest growing seaweeds. On a hectare we could produce up to 100 tonnes of dried seaweed, while a crop like wheat sits at around 2-5 tonnes per hectare. You can see that some of the nori production rates have also been known to grow fast. 

Replacing just a small portion of our diets with seaweed, such as 5-10% as in our muesli or pasta, or snacking on some nori sheets, will help us to reduce the pressure of 5-10% on land crop production, including all of the fossil carbon intensive inputs and freshwater demands that go with it. This is an immediate way that we can use seaweed for sustainability.

In my view this is a fast tasty and healthy way for us to do something right now about reducing the pressure of food production on the planet. Not only that, getting adequate nutrition through seaweed also helps you to eat less, thus further reducing the pressure on food produciton. This is because you don't need to consume as much nutrient dense food, as you do if you eat nutrient poor food.

We recently talked to Al Jazeera about this concept, and that we can eat our way to more sustainable solutions. Along with all of the progress in renewable energy, better materials and other technology in the world, this is positive news.

So Bon apetit! Eat up!